“When did you become an anorak?’
It was a playful piece of banter I suppose but the remark stayed with me. To be an Anorak is to have ‘an obsessive interest in a niche subject’ and is in the same vein as the label Twitcher for bird watchers. It struck me as derogatory and snooty. It consigned a person to a category marked ‘other’ and consigned everyone else to having to like similar things and it irked me.
As a person who finds an anemone interesing I also find many things interesting so I began to wonder what the person in question found interesting or beautiful that would make liking anemones seem weird. Maybe she liked things that could be considered the opposite to smelly rock pools and cold beaches?I imagined malls and shopping, make-up and nice dresses which I could not fault anyone for liking.
But, taking shopping and dresses as an example, if that is what you like then why should you think its weird to like an anemone?Clothes are inspired by the human body which is natural, patterns and colours have surely had their origins in the natural world. In fact everything~fashion, design, art, architecture and so on~ has to have been inspired by nature either negatively or positively. That is all there is. An anenome could inspire a nice dress.. …OK. Maybe not.
Then I realised it wasn’t that the person was interested in different things than me that irked me at all, it was that she represented the modern disinterest in absolutely everything.
One of the defining words of this Post-Modern era of ours is the word ‘cool’. Cool originally referred to a detachment from subject matter exhibited by Pop and Post-Modern artists (you can tell I have finally started work on that essay can’t you?) a detachment that has since spread to the general populace minus, unfortunately, the creative activity. It is not uncommon now to see memes and updates on social media declaring the posters lack of care of what others think. Not giving a f**k is ‘cool’. This is something that irks me too not only because it is unlikely to be true in a social animal like a human but because if you have to say it well then it probably isn’t true. It is de rigueur to not be interested or curious about anything and this is what makes Anoraks and Twitchers un~cool. They are care more about what they’re interested in than what the ‘pack’ think of them.
This is not to say that I think we should be all grinning and bouncing around like children’s show presenters yelling…
“Isn’t everything marvellous!”
…when it is quite obvious that everything is fairly shite actually. You’ ll find few people more cynical than me but as long as I am here on this planet I like to maintain some level of attention. It’s the only thing that keeps me (relatively) sane and in the moment.
Curiosity and the ability to be amazed and surprised remains for me the most attractive quality in others and it’s terribly rare. I know so many people who bend over backwards to pretend they know everything, even what I am going to say before I say it, who cloak themselves with disinterest, habit and world-weariness for fear of being labelled or outcast or marked as some kind of fool.
It’s such a blast of fresh air then when you meet someone who isn’t afraid to explore, to ask questions to see new things, to be open to surprise and amazement, unconfined in their curiosity by judgement, habit or social expectations. More often than not these people have been through a few rounds with life, they are battered yet they are still on their feet, still up for it, still engaged, still alive.
They are the ones who really, really don’t give a fuck.
And I thought I was going to write about rock pools….